From Petition Pp12 – 14

“The abused child needs to make sense out of what is happening to him. In order to do so he frequently reasons that there must be something wrong with him: he must be bad or worthless. Taking the blame helps the child believe he has some control. If he can just stop being bad, the abuse will stop. In fact, the child has no control. If the case of a parent or guardian being an abuser, the child is an object under the power of the person or persons on whom he is most dependent.
(See M. Hunter, ; D. Schetky and A. Green)

“Abused children are taught that they have no right to feel angry or afraid about what has been done to them, and so they come to believe their emotions are bad and they need to be in control of them at all times or they will “go crazy” or become violent.

“The child learns to cope with the abuse by dissociating—compartmentalizing parts of the personality or body. “You can hurt my body, but not the real me.” Over time dissociating creates memory problems, causing victims to “lose” large blocks of time from their childhood. These experiences of distrust of one’s emotions and memory loss combined to convince the victim that his mind is faulty and not to be trusted.

“The emotional results of child abuse include:

“Fear: Demonstrated in nightmares, mistrust of others, vague feelings that something bad is going to happen, fear of authority and panic attacks.

“Shame: Which is related to the person’s self rather than to an experience. Shame causes the victim to view himself as horrible rather than as someone to whom something horrible was done.

”Guilt: which causes the victim to always believe he has done something wrong.

“The behavioral aspects of child abuse are self-punishment, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, and substance abuse to medicate emotions and repress memories.

“The abhorrent abuse perpetrated on Joe Giarratano and his attempts to cope with that abuse instilled in him an awesome burden of guilt and the confirmed belief that he was a bad person who could not trust his own mind, memory and emotions.

“Drug and alcohol blackouts, of which Joe had long been aware, further compounded his distrust of his mind and memory.

“According to Dr. James Hill, a specialist on alcoholism, such a blackout entails a complete lack of memory for events of a certain time span. Emerging from the blackout, the individual tries to ascertain what happened during the blackout by searching for clues and by imagining some plausible sequence of events. When he emerges from the blackout or amnesia, “if all is not well, he will often readily admit to being guilty of nearly anything, so as to relieve the dread and guilt.”

“Joe Giarratano had been conditioned for 21 years to assume guilt for anything bad that happened to him or around him. For Joe, it was a perfectly normal reaction to assume guilt for the murders of “Toni” and Michelle Kline and go on to “confess” to those murders.

“…the years of abuse had culminated in mental illness for Joe. However he learned of “Toni” and Michelle’s deaths, he felt responsible, and convinced himself that he was worse than horrible; he was evil and had to be killed. Being so convinced, he did everything he could to convince others or carry out the job himself. He attempted suicide twice in the Norfolk City Jail.

“Sent to Central State Hospital for a pretrial competency evaluation because of the first suicide attempt, on February 17, 1979 he told Dr. Ryans he had been violent in prison, tearing a bed out of a wall, beating down a wall and beating “the hell out of a security officer.” His prison and other records show no such incident ever happened. He also told Dr. Ryans that if he tried to kill himself and the aides tried to stop him, he’d kill the aides.

“On February 22, Joe did attempt suicide at Central State and the aides did stop him. He did not hurt them in any way.”

From Petition p. 63

“As we have noted throughout this petition, at the time he was tried and for some time thereafter, Mr. Giarratano suffered from multiple, serious mental disabilities, many of which had their genesis in the unrelenting abuse he suffered as a child. He suffered from a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder, which clouded his ability to perceive and think accurately about reality and which caused periods of profound depression, characterized by feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, and suicidal thoughts and behavior. He suffered from many years of drug abuse, which also compromised his ability to perceive and think accurately about reality. He suffered brain damage, which exacerbated the effects of schizoaffective disorder and drug abuse and humiliation; he suffered from memory impairment, causing him to be highly suggestible and prone to confabulation.”

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